Map of Zimbabwe
Map of Zimbabwe

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative launched in 1988 has successfully obliterated polio in 45 of the 46-nation sub-Saharan region.  But there have been recent reports of  outbreaks in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Kenya and Uganda.

Custodia Mandhlate, WHO's representative in Zimbabwe, says this is the result of cross-border movement and under-immunization in these countries.

"The most targeted countries are the in the central part of Africa with high level of unimmunized children and they are the polio importation belt," said Mandhlate.

She says some of the countries where children are under immunized are actually resource rich. But instead of investing the money earned from these resources in children's health, they depends on outside donations.

"If you look at Angola, Nigeria, even Chad, they have petrol, diamonds et cetera. But they are looking for resources coming from outside," she said.

Mandhlate added that WHO would engage the leaders of some of these countries to ensure they play their role in having children immunized.

The meeting resolved to look into having a regional annual immunization week targeting all vaccine-preventable diseases in children, such as measles and tetanus. WHO's Mandhlate noted that campaigns are expensive but necessary if the U.N. Millenium Development Goal to reduce the mortality rate for children under five years of age by two-thirds by 2015 is to be achieved.